Monday, October 30, 2017

Peak Bagging at Craters

Just a quick trip over to Craters of the Moon to check off a few more peaks.

Dates: October 28-29, 2017.

Objectives: Sunset Cone. Grassy Cone. Silent Cone.

Stats: Listed below.

Partners: Deez and Lego Master.

Gear notes: Should have worn thick pants to aid in not thrashing my legs in the sage brush.

Links: Idaho: A Climbing Guide - Sunset ConeGrassy Cone and Silent Cone. A previous trip to Craters - Big Cinder Butte.

Day 1: Sunset Cone. 500ft gain and 1 mile round trip.

There had been a perfect stretch of fall weather and we had to take advantage of it. We decided against anything in the high mountains since we were taking the youngster out with us. Craters of the Moon has plenty to see and can be a very good choice this time of year. After driving the Blue Bug Smasher to the camp ground and getting set up, we parked at a pullout on the south side of the highway and started up the sage brush covered slopes and headed for the top of Sunset Cone. It didn't take too long to reach the top.

Looking toward Arco.

Big Southern Butte.



Next up was Grassy Cone. 350ft and less than a mile round trip. We parked at the pullout nearest to the peak on the south side of the highway. I was hoping the name Grassy Cone would come from its slopes being covered with grass and not sage brush, but I was wrong. Neither of these peaks were particularly fun, but they were easy minus the sage brush, and the boxes are now checked.

Sunset Cone from Grassy Cone.

Well, whatever. Two peaks is two peaks, right!? 

The sun was beginning to set so that was the end of hiking for the first day. We hung out in camp and enjoyed watching the stars come out before we settled in.

Day 2: Silent Cone. 900ft and 3 miles round trip. We had a bit more time to use on day 2 so we picked a bit more of a challenge and we didn't have to start super early which was nice. We hiked the North Crater Trail for the interesting views and terrain. The Geologist in me wants to ramble on about it, but I wont. You're welcome. I do highly recommend this trail though.

The shortest way would be to start from the Spatter Cones if you wanted to skip one of the best trails at Craters of the Moon.

Starting out on the North Crater Trail.

Sunset Cone.

The North Crater Lava Flow and Grassy Cone.

North Crater Trail.

There are many excellent geological examples along this trail and the hiking is not too difficult.

Silent Cone.
I will stress the importance of minimizing human impact here. 'Nuff said!
We hiked with great care up the Silent Cone.

Sage brush.

The terrain isn't difficult but there is plenty of sage brush to weave though.

Big Cinder Butte. 

The views were fantastic from the top. We were treated to warm temps, clear skies and very light wind. We could see from Carey to Arco no problemo, and all the lava in between.

Another summit!

North Crater (not a ranked peak).


 We almost forgot where we were. Duh!

Then it was back down the same slope and trail all the way back to the car.

Hiking back along the North Crater Trail.

Looking out over the North Crater Lava Flow.
We were back in time for an almost late lunch before a stop at the visitors center and a head start on the drive home to stop for a milk shake. It was a pretty quick and easy trip to check off three peaks. Kid tested; mother approved!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Buck Mountain and Peak 4620

Hiking in the Owyhee's on a windy day and snagged two peaks with a short section of class 3 on Peak 4620.

Date: October 8, 2017.

Objectives: Buck Mountain and Peak 4620.

Stats: Strava track. 3.6 miles and 1,400ft gain round trip.

Partners: Deez, Lego Master and Ketchum the krazy dog.

Gear notes: N/A.

GoPro Video

Looking toward the peaks from the road.

We headed out for a two peak day, which was much easier than it may sound. After an hour or so of driving, we parked along an unnamed road that runs along side Squaw Creek and headed toward our peaks.

Step one: Cross Squaw Creek. No problemo late in the year but I've heard this creek crossing can give you some trouble in the spring.

Deez hops the creek.
After that, we headed up the not-too-steep hillside and into the canyon that more or less heads right up to Buck Mountain. No major obstacles to report in this section.

Looking east at Peak 4620.

The Fam gaining elevation.

Near the top of the canyon.

From the top of the canyon, just pick your line and head for the top. It wasn't far or difficult, but the wind pushed us around a bit.

Looking back over Squaw Creek.

A few views off the top.

Views from Buck Mountain.

Views from Buck Mountain.

Views from Buck Mountain.

Views from Buck Mountain.

And a selfie!
Top of Buck Mountain.
We ducked out of the wind the best we could and had a quick snack before pushing on to Peak 4620.

Zoomed in on Peak 4620.

Heading to Peak 4620.

Heading to Peak 4620.

Shares Snout in the distance looked fun. Anyone up to trail run it?

Shares Snout.
Peak 4620 is interesting in the fact that there is actually a bit of 3rd class scrambling involved. It's not exposed or difficult, just interesting and fun.

Summit block of Peak 4620.

Deez climbing a short step enroute to the summit.

Top of Peak 4620.
We were all smiles and high-fives while we took in the view from the top. Nothing left to do now but head down.

Dryden Peak and Piute Butte, I believe. Looking south from Peak 4620.

Heading down.

Heading down.

"Yay, this is fun!"

There was just a bit of up-and-over before we could head back down. We got hit by a light rain shower that passed as quick as it came.

Leaving Peak 4620.

Heading down.

We hiked past some cool towers, then headed straight for the road to get back to the car before the dark clouds opened up again.

Fun peaks, easy hiking and a good day!

Happy trails!

Sawtooth Observations

Attempt at running Observation Peak. Lots of down fall and just enough snow to make it a no-go on the summit. Consistent 8 inches of slop above 8,400ft. Still a beautiful bluebird day!

Date: October 6, 2017.

Objective: Observation Peak.

Stats: Strava track. 13 miles with 3.700 feet of gain round trip.

Partners: N/A.

Gear notes: Standard kit for mountain running.

Links: Idaho: A Climbing Guide. Summitpost.

Mountain running in October? Count me in! Iffy conditions? Suck it up!
I wanted to stick my nose into the Sawtooth's to see if I could get up Observation Peak. I figured it made more sense to plan for a run and end up hiking, than it did to plan for a hike and try to run. There was a fair amount of downfall around the junction with the trail to Trail Creek Lakes and the trail to heading to Observation Peak was difficult to follow in places. I hit some kind of deep and funky snow and lost the trail up high. Had I been in hiking gear the summit would have still been a bit tough, but do-able. Snow shoes might have helped with the last few hundred feet. I want to run this peak and maybe a couple more as part of a potential loop around Sawtooth Lake. Guess it will have to wait until next year!

Running advantages: Light kit and faster pace over long mileage. Disadvantages: No pants, boots, gaiters or poles to manage the snow up high.

Hiking advantages: Having all the extra stuff to deal with the snow. Better food. Disadvantages: Heaver kit and more difficult to move as fast as running.

GoPro footage


Looking down the valley of Trail Creek.

Observation Peak from down low in the trail.

A fair amount of early snow on the north facing aspects.

Bogged down in 8 inches of sugary softness with no trail in sight.

Trail near the junction to Observation Peak.

Perfect running conditions in autumn down low.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Around The Mountain

A great tour of the Boise Mountains that circumnavigates Shafer Butte in Bogus Basin Ski Area.

Date: September 29, 2017.

Objective: Trail running.

Stats: Strava track. 10 miles and 1,400ft of gain round trip.

Partners: N/A.

Gear notes: Standard kit for mountain running.

Links: Trail Run Project.

GoPro Video

This turned out to be a fantastic day for running in the mountains. Crisp air, sunny skies and fall colors just beginning to stand out. I bypassed Shafer Butte since I've already been to the top several times, but it would make this run a bit more interesting. The first two miles are kind of steep, but beyond that, no real big climbs as this route stays fairly low.  Many options exist to extend or connect this trail.

Happy Running!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Snowbank Mountain

A quick hike up a scenic peak.

Date: August 19. 2017.

Objectives: Snowbank Mountain 8,340ft. Range highpoint of the West Mountains. P2K. Granite Mountain,

Stats: Strava track. 2.4 miles and 700ft gain in 2 hours round trip. Includes extra hiking just for kicks.

Partners: Deez and Dog.

Gear notes: N/A.

Links: Snowbank Mountain and Granite Peak on Idaho: A Climbing Guide.

We had an open day with time to kill but we didn't want to venture too far from town. The potential for bad traffic due to the eclipse had us guessing, but we still wanted to get out. When we did Tripod Peak last year we had planned to do the quick hike up Snowbank, but ran out of time. Fast forward one year and there we were.

Snowbank Mountain.

There were a lot of people camped out for the eclipse just two days way. This day was particularly hazy and the views were not real great.

Collier Peak.

Collier Peak looked interesting but the smoke in the air made our minds up to not go for it. The route up Snowbank just follows the road so it wasn't too interesting but the summit itself is pretty cool. Snowbank Mountain has more than 3,000 feet of prominence, or what is known as a P2K, a peak with more than 2,000 feet of prominence. On a clear day the view would be more dramatic.

Deez on the summit.


Hazy skies.

We hiked out onto this ridge just for kicks.

East side of the summit.

Hiking the east ridge.

Just below the summit.

Snowbank on Snowbank.

After a bit of walking and going back up Snowbank mountain, we drove to the base of Granite Mountain to make it a two peak day. Granite is a short walk from the road so make sure you get it when you're in the area.

Horn feature.

This horn looked interesting. It might need to be investigated.

Tripod Peak.

Top of Granite Peak.
A short and easy day for sure.

Happy trails!